Newly Qualified Social Worker, Aisling, shares her experiences as a student and NQSW

What course did you study?

MSc Brighton - 2 years and 2 placements

What teams did you have placements in?

My first placement was in the Integrated Team for Families in Brighton & Hove  and my second was in the Duty and Assessment Team in Eastbourne.

How did the Hub model support your practice and learning whilst on placement?

As a student I really benefited from the student hub, it taught me the importance of being able to reflect on my practice. It was great speaking with other students, hypothesising and making plans for my practice in the future.

I definitely believe the hub model me more practice-ready than I would otherwise have been. As a student it’s really important to be able to reflect on practice and get feedback on how you are doing. I would often arrive at the hubs feeling really stressed but left feeling enthusiasm again about social work.

What do you think are the strengths/benefits of the hub model?

The number one thing about the hub was that it allowed me to remember I was just a student. Statutory placements are amazing and provide you with the skills for social work that you wouldn't get without this but do come with stress and challenges and the hub is like a support group as well as learning group.

The other benefit was mixing with students from another university which I hadn't had before; these are likely to be friends and colleagues for years to come and certainly created the beginning of social groups. We supported each other in good and bad times; sharing experiences of our highs and lows with each other - a really positive place.

In the skills development groups we learnt the latest research and social work practice and it was delivered in a really interesting way relevant to practice and built on what we had already learned at university.

What tips would you give to social work students about to enter their first placement? What is the most important thing you learned?

  • Understand the importance of social work education and be willing to ask for support and guidance.
  • Accept that you are going to make mistakes; be open and honest - people will understand.
  • Try new experiences and embrace as many opportunities as you can early in your placement as you will be really busy once further into placement.
  • The best way to find an answer to a practice question is through your own manager or a current Newly Qualified Social Worker – seek them out.
  • Enjoy your placement but do your portfolio as you go and keep your evidence up to date. This is key!

How did you find the recruitment process?

You need to be able to talk about the job and speak about your experiences on placement and the hub really helped me preparing for this so that together with the experience I gained on my statutory placement I felt capable and ready for the interview and to do the job.

What have been the highlights of your NQSW role so far?

Coming back to the team where I was on placement. I have an amazing manager. It’s a difficult climate at the moment but people are still laughing and I love it.

If you could sum up your first few months as a NQSW in a few words what would they be?

Exciting, challenging, tiring but rewarding.

Aisling circle